In honour of International Women's Day, this two-part feature, Women With Vision, is a glimpse at four strong women who are leaders in their field.
Dr. Holly Hoang, Medical Director of the Covenant Health Antimicrobial Stewardship Program
“My parents came to Canada as refugees in 1980 with nothing but the intent to give me and my siblings stepping stones to succeed in life,” says Dr. Holly Hoang. Colleagues describe her as the “ultimate career woman.”
Not only is she a mentor, educator, wife and mother of two young children, but at 31 years old, Holly became the Medical Director of the Covenant Health Antimicrobial Stewardship Program (ASP). She implements initiatives to curb antibiotic resistance and her team educates other prescribers about how to use antibiotics judiciously. They say physicians appreciate Holly’s evidence-based approach and are very willing to alter their prescribing accordingly.
“Physicians’ main goal is to help patients and provide them with the best care possible. Sometimes, that does mean using antibiotics,” explains Holly. “Trying to educate people on how to use them only when necessary and optimally is challenging. But I actually find that we have a fairly engaged audience here and that the physicians recognize the importance of antibiotic stewardship.”
As a young, female physician, Holly sometimes encounters patients who may initially be skeptical. But she has found that once she has completed the consult, they do a complete 180. “I think it comes down to being confident in my clinical knowledge and my ability to provide them with optimal patient care.”
Dr. Leah Remington, Infectious Disease Physician, first met Holly when she was a medical resident. “Holly is someone I’ve always looked up to,” says Leah. “She’s pioneered the antimicrobial stewardship movement at Covenant, which has been a huge success. Stewardship can be a difficult thing to implement and involves liaising with all of the medical services in the hospital. Holly is the perfect person for the job because of her ability to advocate for patients while still being extremely calm and professional.”
Leah covered part of Holly’s ASP job throughout her maternity leave. “Whenever I called her with questions, she was always so helpful, understanding and kind. She is very passionate about her job. One of the things I admire about Holly is her ability to balance her work so well with her home life.”
Carol Lajoie, Corporate Director for Environmental Supports
Picking a career path at age 17 can be a daunting task for many. As Carol Lajoie found out, where you start isn’t always where you end up.
“I went into dietary work because I love food,” says Carol, Corporate Director for Environmental Supports. “I had an interest in nutrition, and what I discovered along the way was that I have a keen business sense.”
Carol, a registered dietitian, studied administrative dietetics at the University of Alberta. In her early career, she worked in what was then Capital Health, in charge of community nutrition.
“I married a pharmacist and we had this big dream that we were going to run a successful business,” Carol recollects. “We found an opportunity in B.C. and started a pharmacy from scratch.”
Carol’s business acumen had her heavily involved in starting their pharmacy, moving into the finance and HR aspects of the day-to-day work.
15 years later, Carol’s late husband was diagnosed with cancer, which made their business too much to manage.
“That’s when this opportunity came up to work at Covenant Health,” says Carol. “I knew [Senior Operating Officer] Linda Chow-Turner from university, and we were colleagues at Capital Health and had stayed in touch.” Carol knew from her past experience that Linda would be a good person to work for.
“You hit an age in life when you realize that working for the right people makes such a difference in how you enjoy your job and how you can get things accomplished,” says Carol.
Carol hopes she creates that same environment for her staff.
“Carol gives permission to explore projects and areas of interest that are dear to our hearts.” —Michelle Nelson, Senior Manager, Hospitality Services
Carol’s position oversees 1,500 staff in clinical nutrition, food services and environmental services, which includes housekeeping, laundry and waste management. Other responsibilities are specific to certain sites, including audiovisual at Grey Nuns and Misericordia hospitals, some mail rooms and some sites where there is involvement with materiels management.
“Before I complain that something isn’t working well, I double-check that it isn’t in my portfolio.”
What has impressed Carol is the culture of Covenant Health. Though all organizations have mission and vision statements, those values are deeply seated into the everyday work Carol undertakes.
“I have such respect for the senior leadership team,” says Carol. ”They’re driven by the right motivators."
That respect is echoed by Carol’s team, who acknowledge her as a strong, empowering leader.
“I knew Carol as a student when she came to the Misericordia as an intern,” recalls Florian Lanctot, Manager of Hospitality at Villa Caritas. “Her goal is to help us grow and ensure we all go in the same direction.”
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